Raid Leading 101: Placement and Direction


I’d like to share two stories today.

I remember years ago when my guild (at the time) set foot into Serpentshrine Cavern. We nuked the trash and faced Hydross for the first time. Our raid leader gave us directions on which elementals to DPS down first and which side of the room we had to drag her to. Since we had 4 tanks, each one was assigned a different elemental. One was assigned to the left, the other was on the right, and so forth. Things seemed to look good until the fateful question was asked:

“Wait, is that our left or is that Hydross’ left?”

And so the next fifteen minutes were spent debating which left was appropriate.

The next one is a little more recent and it comes at the heels of our Sindragosa attempts. We’ve sort of managed to stabilize our ground and air phase placements. Where we’ve struggled was during phase 3. Here’s a glimpse at our attempts:

Raid lead: “Okay guys, on phase 3, I want the frost beaconed player to stand on his tail.”

*Phase 3 hits, beaconed player runs very far toward the end of the tail, wipe ensues due to distance*

Raider: “You told us to stand on the tail.”

Raid lead: “Okay guys, well when I meant tail, I meant that you should stand where the tail and the butt meet, not the end length of the tail.”

*Phase 3 hits, beaconed player runs just below the butt, raid follows, gets Tail Smashed*

Raider: “I’m pretty sure that we stood in the right spot.”

Raid leader: “Well when I meant where her tail and butt meet, I didn’t mean directly behind it. You should stand just beside it so that the conical attack doesn’t hit you. Try a little to the left of it.

(At this point, he asks in officer chat if he wasn’t being precise or clear enough.

I looked skyward before burying my face in my hands.)

As you can see, good communication is a necessity. I’ve been in many pickup groups where raid leaders say one thing only to mean the other. They were not clear at all. In today’s post, I’d like to introduce a few terms and concepts that have allowed me to place players with pin point (almost smart bomb-like) accuracy.

Various terms

Set the orientation

The first thing I like to do is set the orientation of the encounter. In order to determine this, you need to figure out in your strat whether or not the boss is going to be mobile (constantly moving around like Professor Putricide) or static (like Festergut or Deathbringer Saurfang). Everyone needs to be on the same page and be reading from the same playbook.


  • Using cardinal directions, you’ll be standing…
  • Facing this boss, I want you over to the…
  • Boss will always be moving, so you need to stay within melee range on…

For bosses where they are tanked all over the place, sometimes it’s best to rely on relative terms (left of, right of, behind, close to, etc). On bosses where they get tanked primarily in one location, compass directions can work well (North, south, east, west).

Identify landmarks

Look around the area and see if there is anything you can use. Perhaps there is a pattern on the floor that will make an excellent bullseye for players to stand on. Or maybe there is an object that can be used.


  • The entrance
  • The orange wall (Professor Putricide)
  • Base of the stairs
  • Right pillar

Be as descriptive as necessary. Try to look for features that are unique. There is only one table in Professor Putricide’s room. One of the faucets are colored green (Exception: You may need to be more specific when working with colorblind raiders).

On the go

Most fights tend to involve a lot of movement. Players need to be instructed on the fly where to run to or where to run away from. Using land marks helps as well, but focus more on the words you’re using. Note the italics.


  • Run along the orange wall
  • Run away from the boss
  • Move toward the yellow star’d player
  • Tank the boss as close to the edge as possible

Really obvious directions are being given to players. It’s easy enough to hear these instructions and catch on to what the raid leader wants you to do.

Dress rehearsals

At the very top chamber where Blood Queen Lana’thel is, you’ll notice that there is a grate. When you kill her, you can simply drop down to the floor below. Until then, it can serve as an excellent way to place raiders before actually engaging the boss. I put a star icon on my head, run to a specific spot on the circular pattern on the ground, whisper a player and tell them to run to me. This is where they stand on the fight using the circular pattern on the ground that’s directly in front of the Blood Queen.


(Example instructions for avoiding oozes: Start at the orange wall when the green ooze comes out! Don’t stand in the middle pattern. When it’s dead, cut across and stand under the green faucet. Avoid standing in the middle pattern. When the orange ooze comes out, wait for it to cross the middle. Start going to the green wall, then head towards Putricide’s table at the back before running toward and along the orange wall.)

Simple communication cuts down on wasted time and attempts. Be as clear as possible. Try to think of ways where raiders might misunderstand what you’re saying and plan around that.

Be not afraid, as the forest nymphs will guide you on how to please your raiders.

18 thoughts on “Raid Leading 101: Placement and Direction”

  1. ToC was great for this kind of thing. I would put a star on my head and run around the arena giving instructions before a fight. Whenever I wanted to make one spot or area completely clear, I’d start hopping up and down like and ADD bunny on speed.
    .-= Saniel´s last blog ..Guild Pressures =-.

  2. A plea from us orientation-challenged people: as long as it’s possible, keep the “right side of the boss” type of explanation. Most people don’t deal with the points of the compass on a day to day basis so it’s harder to react. First you have to figure out where you are in regards to the map, then figure out just exactly what North-West means, then start moving. It might just be my slow brain, but by the time I figured out where the “banshee at South West” was in Naxx at the Kel’Thuzad fight… it would either be dead or munching on our brains.

    And don’t be my old raid leader, who told us to “turn 180 and run backward” when he was trying to get us away from the boss.
    .-= Jen´s last blog ..Taragaman falls to the cows, and other adventures =-.

  3. There are all sorts of little tricks you can do to make instructions more clear, some of which involve spells. For example, I used to take lightwell because it makes for a great prop for explaining encounters. It has a terrific range and won’t pull bosses (or at least used to not pull them). “Pretend this is the boss, I want you to stand here.” Or “when X happens, run to where the lightwell is now.”

    We also used to use chain heal to explain things like the old Netherspite tank beam dance. “Mr Shaman, do me favor, stand 20 feet away from person X and cast chain heal. This is what the red beam will look like. If you are the tank in the red beam, do this.” Then you do the beam dance.

    As a former teacher, I can tell you that some folks respond better than others to simple aural commands like the kind of raid leaders often give out in raids. Using props not only gives them another way to understand a set of instructions, it’s also a fun and creative use of game mechanics. =)

  4. I’m still confused about positioning in Sindragosa p3 :p

    One thing I’ve noticed over the time I’ve been raiding is that visual cues never seem to be used enough. I would assume the majority of gamers are visual learners (after all gaming is very much a visual activity) yet most of the raid leaders I’ve encountered use very abstract terms to give directions. “Left” and “Right” are relative, “move a little bit” doesn’t mean anything, and so on.

    Visual cues like “towards the table”, flares or even just pinging on the map leaves so much less room for confusion.
    .-= Ophelie´s last blog ..What happens when I talk on vent =-.

  5. I prefer instructions as: read up on the boss, avoid bad stuff, heal good guys, dps bad guys, don’t die

    When facing a dragon like Sindy you should not have to tell people the tail is bad for example

    If the raidleader says stand on the tail then at least someone could pipe up: “won’t we get tailswiped then?”

    Common sence über alles 🙂

  6. Our guild usually practices placement by making someone be the boss and have others run around him as they should in raid. For certain spot designations we also have someone mark himself and run around while calling out names on vent.

  7. Shriyaro, Contact Report, Over
    Raid Leader, Send, Over
    Shriyaro, Orange wall is left of arc, green wall is right of arc, table is center of arc. 1 unit of orange ooze 2/3 left of center of arc, Break
    Shriyaro, I am engaging and attempting to kite them in situ, Break
    Shriyaro, Further DPS support required, over
    Raid Leader, Roger, out

    Sounds like I’m playing MilSims again, not WoW 🙂

  8. It drives me a little bit crazy to not use N/E/S/W when to me it’s so much simpler than the “which left?” confusion. What, the average wow player has never led a wilderness orienteering program?

  9. Heh… I did the same thing with the grate for BQL… of course then my raiders spread out on to the big circle in her room instead of the nice tight circle I wanted them to be in 🙁

    If I may make a suggestion on putricide… after the green ooze dies you waste a lot of time moving all the way to the other side of the room. Just have everyone move to the center. Ranged can dps the gas cloud as soon as it spawns and then melee can quickly switch after it targets someone. This also makes it easier to run back into the orange corner for the green ooze.

  10. As a raid leader I have found smoke bombs to be 100% necessary for every encounter explanation. I keep one of each color in my bag at all times.

    ‘Go to the north, go to the right side, go 15 yards from center’…can sometimes be difficult to understand.

    ‘Melee stand where I put the red smoke, we tank where I put the white smoke, healers stand where I put the blue smoke, and ranged stay spread out over by the yellow smoke’ (or whatever). It really leaves little room for miscommunication.

    And as always: Keep your instructions as short and simple as you possibly can.

    Great post. 🙂

  11. Pingback: The Daily Quest: Raid leading | 9Digital

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